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Christ knocks at the door of our heart.

Emperor Henry IV, Frederick Barbarossa, Frederick II, Philip the Fair.

Henry IV, Emperor of Germany, who feigned repentance at the castle of Canossa in 1077 and later besieged the Pope in Rome for three years, was dethroned by his own son and died in exile (1106) in Liege, overwhelmed with remorse. Frederick Barbarossa created three antipopes and took Rome. From then on, fortune betrayed him: in 1168 he lost most of his army, which was decimated by the plague, and he was forced to cross the Alps again with the remains of his troops. In 1176 he lost the decisive battle of Legnano, which forced him to make peace with Venice, and fourteen years later (1190) he died in Syria while bathing in the Calycadnus.

The emperor Frederick II sought to subordinate the power of the pope to the imperial power and to seize the Papal States. He was therefore excommunicated in 1245 by the Council of Lyon, and the German princes deposed him. Soon he died in Sicily, ruined in body and spirit (1250), and soon afterwards the proud house of Hohenstaufen died out. Conradin, his last offspring, atoned for the crimes of his forefathers and died at the hand of the executioner in a public square in Naples in 1268.

Philip the Fair, king of France, had Pope Boniface VIII arrested, and the august old man died as a result of this mistreatment in 1303. The king, for his part, died suddenly in 1314, at the age of 47, as a result of a fall.

The words of Jesus Christ: “He who falls on this stone will be broken and it will crush him on whom it falls,” apply to the rock of Saint Peter. Count Joseph De Maistre expressed the same thought when he said, “He who eats the pope dies of it.”

The sick lion and the fox.

Among the panoply of La Fontaine’s fables is “The Sick Lion and the Fox.”

This is the story of a lion, king of the animals, who claiming to be ill, invites his vassals to come pay their last respects. Each animal species sends a qualified deputation. Pressed to go to the den of the indisposed royal, the fine fox rightly remarked that “from the footsteps stamped on the dust, all without exception led to the den, while not one marked the return.” It was doubtless to this old fable so artfully turned by La Fontaine that Rudolph of Habsburg, the forefather of the Austrian emperors, was thinking, when he said, “The remains on the road frighten me!” His advisers had wanted to urge him to an expedition to Italy to ruin the power of the pope; but he answered them, “The footprints on the road frighten me” i.e., history proves that none of the rulers who persecuted the pope had a happy ending: “Their destiny frightens me.”

The end of Judas and Herod, murderer of the Innocents, is also a frightening example of the unhappy end of all the persecutors of the Church.

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